Eclectic, magical Entayant Gardens
RAINBOW LAKE — Within the bends and coves of Rainbow Lake sits Entayant Gardens.
Don Busch, owner and gardening master, uses what the land pushes forth and then some. What doesn’t flourish gets preserved and made into a work of art.
When first entering Entayant Garden, one thinks of whimsical talking flowers and croquet with flamingos, a la “Alice in Wonderland.” Busch has it all in his 80 acres of land turned into a little-known gem.
The flamingos may be fake on his gardens’ Flamingo Island, but there’s a croquet court surrounded by his favorite flowers, peonies and the smell of thyme.
“Sometimes the flowers talk, too,” Busch says as he lovingly explains his magical home.
In 1935, the Jeddeloh family built a small cabin in the woods by Rainbow Lake. They felled the trees themselves and built their home log by log. The original cabin still sits, with Busch’s finishing touches; he now calls it the Clubhouse. There is a nod to the first owners in a plaque hanging over the door that reads “Haus Jeddeloh Circa 1935.” The Jedelohs lived in this cabin while they built the main house just up the hill, which Busch has added onto and renovated since he and his wife Yvonne bought the property back in 1970.
This privately owned garden is an ever-evolving body of art that Don Busch has been working on for almost 40 years, and he doesn’t mind showing it off to fellow garden enthusiasts.
“Don’t mind the gate,” he says. “It’s just for deer. Come on in, and close the gate behind you. Without that, I wouldn’t have a garden.”
“Entayant” is an Algonquin word for “at my lodging and to my house,” he says. Being welcome is apparent as soon as one enters, to the sound of classical music piped into the garden. The music also “makes it nicer when you’re weeding,” Busch chuckles.
The tour starts with the peony-encircled croquet court and “Woodhenge,” as a Paul Smith’s College student coined it, complete with hand-tiled floor, a family of little duck figures, and carved figures and wisteria climbing round the columns. Within the arches of Woodhenge hangs a giant fern, which Busch stores in the winter at the Hhott House garden center in Saranac Lake.
“It takes two men to carry that one,” Busch explains.
The path follows a wooden plank path down through the woods to many little places to sit, meditate and just enjoy the beauty of nature. Down by the water is a tower with a gargoyle, one of several throughout the property. This one is connected to a pump and spits water out into the lake, where loons can be heard crying from not so far away. Busch says the loons may still be confused by his fake flamingos. The birds “just stopped and stared” when he first set up Flamingo Island.
The eclectic array of woodwork, art and plants is a sort of ongoing joke to Busch, who never misses an opportunity to poke fun at himself.
“I have a sense of humor about gardening,” he says.
The gardens’ “five-minute” works of art are a testament to Busch’s sense of humor. Pieces left over from his construction works are made into sculptures of a sort that can be put together in five minutes and taken apart just as quickly.
“We don’t waste anything,” Busch continually points out, from the compost for his gardens to the broken tools and old clothes that are used throughout.
This continually developing work of art never ceases to be added to and reinvented. Busch was in the process of building a fountain and lily pond when the Adirondack Daily Enterprise interviewed him back in 2006, and although that was completed just this year, there is still more work to be done and fountains to be fixed — and the constant weeding and sprinkling of seeds for more flowers every year.
“I keep thinking about a tree house,” Busch says.
Even now he takes the time to learn new things. Just this year he took a class in making acrylic paint, which he then used to splash color throughout the garden.
Busch is not shy about showing his work to those interested. There is an upcoming tour in September and a peony workshop to keep an eye out for in late June of next year. There will even be a chance to take home a piece of Entayant Gardens in November, when Busch will sell some of his peonies. If you can’t wait, his guest house that can be rented out through the Adirondack By Owner website.